Goddess Herb Dressing
Makes about 2 cups.
Note: "If you look in my fridge, there's probably a jar of this dressing in there right now," writes Alan Bergo in "The Forager Chef's Book of Flora." "This is one of my favorite dressings for salads, but you'll find yourself spooning it on everything from grilled meat and fish to soups, stews and vegetables. The combinations you can make here with different tender-textured herbs are infinite, and each one lends a slightly different taste. As a shortcut, there's nothing wrong with substituting 1 cup of good, thick mayo for the egg and oil." For food safety reasons, we recommend using a pasteurized egg.
• 1/2 c. sour cream
• 1/2 c. sliced chives
• 1 c. loosely packed flavorful herbs, such as tarragon, basil, cilantro (especially green seeds), lemon balm, etc.
• 1 c. loosely packed milk herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, chervil, wood sorrel, etc.
• 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1 egg (see Note)
• 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 c. mild cooking oil
In a blender, combine sour cream, chives, herbs, salt, pepper, lemon juice and egg. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and cooking oil. Purée the ingredients, drizzling in the combined oils until mixture is thick. Transfer the dressing to a container and refrigerate. The sauce should be green and vibrant. It's best used within a few days, but will keep a decent flavor for a while longer.
Wild Green Cakes
Makes about 8 to 10 cakes.
Note: "Many different species of plants can be used, and no two batches I've ever made have been exactly the same," writes Alan Bergo in "The Forager Chef's Book of Flora" (Chelsea Green Publishing, $34.95). "The cakes are meant to be a mild side dish — a different way to get your greens. If you want to jazz them up, consider serving them with a yogurt- or tomato- or mayonnaise-based sauce. Sometimes I add cooked onions, seeds or other alliums and herbs if I have them, so think of this recipe as a blank slate that you can make your own. Using different grain flours and seasonings can give you different themes. For example, Latin American-flavored cakes made from quickweed and fine cornmeal, scented with cumin, are great used to scoop up guacamole — a little bit like fried plantains. Chard or wild beet green cakes bound with buckwheat or millet flour would be at home with Eastern European flavors such as sauerkraut and pork sausage. Middle Eastern-inspired cakes could be made with malva or violet leaves, seasoned with baharat spice mix, bound with ground wheat flour and served with tahini sauce."
• 3 packed c. wild greens (or a mix of spinach, parsley and kale)
• 2 eggs
• 1/4 c. flour or flour equivalent, plus extra if necessary
• Kosher salt, to taste
• Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• Freshly grated nutmeg or your favorite spice mix, to taste
• Cooking oil, such as lard or grapeseed oil, as needed for cooking the cakes
• Fresh lemon wedges, for serving, optional
Fill a stock pot with salted water and bring it to a boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water. Blanch the wild greens (or mix of spinach, parsley and kale) in the boiling water just until wilted — a few seconds — and immediately transfer them to the bowl of cold water until greens are cool.
Squeeze the greens dry very well. Chop the greens fine. In a large bowl, mix the chopped greens with eggs and flour. Season the mixture with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste; it should be well-seasoned. Ideally, you'll now let the batter rest for 30 minutes or so before cooking, but it can be cooked straightaway if needed.
Coat a frying pan in cooking oil over medium-high heat. Cook a small piece of the mixture to test the seasoning and adjust to your taste. Using your hands, shape 1/4 cup (about 2 ounces) of the mixture into cakes (if the mixture seems loose or wet, mix another spoonful of flour into the batter), then fry until browned on both sides. The cakes are sturdy and reheat well, so I usually make them in large batches. Serve with lemon wedges.
Roasted Carrot Salad With Marigolds
Serving size varies.
Note: "Cooked whole, the carrots steam inside their skins, concentrating their aroma and color," writes Alan Bergo in "The Forager Chef's Book of Flora." "Because carrot sizes vary, I usually tell people to cook these 'until they're done' — when a knife can just barely pierce them. After cooling, the carrots shouldn't be too mushy, but just al dente. Try it with parsnips, too. There is one species of marigolds that features a pungent citrus flavor, called gem, or signet marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia). Their power is a secret I've been keeping, bringing it out here and there when I really want to knock people's socks off. Like other powerful aromatics, such as rosemary and sage, you can overdo it with marigolds, and a little goes a long way. When you use just enough, in the right place, these citrusy little flowers are fantastic, and those little green leaves are worth their weight in gold." As for utilizing flower gardens, which could be treated with chemicals, "it's important to take into account where it's appropriate to harvest food," he writes. "My advice is to only pick from areas you know well and can feel good about harvesting from."
• Whole carrots, preferably fresh from the garden, on the large side, greens removed down to 1/2 inch and skins gently scrubbed
• Flavorless oil, just enough to coat the carrots
• Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, cumin, maple syrup, finely grated orange zest and apple cider vinegar, to taste
• Marigold leaves, chopped, to taste
• Marigold flowers, whole, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Toss the carrots with just enough oil to barely coat them, then season lightly with salt. Lay the carrots in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast just until they can be pierced with a knife, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the carrots. Remove the pan from the oven (they should feel slightly underdone, and will continue to cook from the pan's residual heat as they cool) and cool the carrots to room temperature. When in doubt, undercook them.
When carrots have cooled, cut them on the bias into 1/2-inch-thick slices, season well with salt and pepper, a little cumin, a dash of maple syrup and some finely grated orange zest to taste, then sprinkle on a little apple cider vinegar. Double-check the seasoning and adjust as needed, making sure it's well-seasoned, since you'll serve it at room temperature. Garnish with chopped marigold leaves and whole flowers to taste.